Without Remorse Finds Its Director

Stefano Sollima, director of Sicario: Day of the Soldado, is officially in talks to direct Without Remorse, based on the novel by Tom Clancy. The film will see Michael B. Jordan star as Clancy favorite John Clark, and Paramount Pictures hopes to use Without Remorse to jumpstart a franchise which will see Jordan return as Clark at least once more.

Jordan is signed to two films right now as Clark, the second being a Rainbow Six film.

Without Remorse will be produced by Akiva Goldsman, Jordan, Josh Applebaum, and Andre Nemec.

The John Clark character has previously been seen on film played by Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber in Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears, respectively. In both films, he is seen as more of a supporting player whereas Jack Ryan is the lead, but with Without Remorse, John Clark finally rises to the front of the pack and leads his own adventures.

For me, I haven’t yet seen Sicario: Day of the Soldado, but from some of my closer colleagues’ opinion, they actually liked the sequel which garnered mixed reviews. While not being as strong as the original Sicario, Day of the Soldado is seen as a capably made action film by some.

Stefano Sollima has also been tapped to direct the Call of Duty film, so he’s getting to be a hot property for genre action. That’s a good sign for certain.

So what do you think? Is Sollima the right choice to kickstart the John Clark franchise? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[#2018oscardeathrace] The Florida Project (2017)

Director: Sean Baker

Cast: Willem Dafoe, Brooklyn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera, Caleb Landry Jones

Screenplay: Sean Baker, Chris Bergen

111 mins. Rated R for language throughout, disturbing behavior, sexual references and some drug material.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role [Willem Dafoe] [Pending]

 

Many critics believe that The Florida Project was snubbed for Best Picture this year. Let me weigh in yet again.

The Florida Project follows Moonee (Brooklyn Prince, Robo-Dog: Airborne) and her mother Halley (Bria Vinaite) who live in the Magic Castle, a cheap motel near Disney World. Moonee is not disciplined by her mother and takes part in mooching, stealing, and rudeness with friends Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and Dicky. Magic Castle’s manager Bobby (Willem Dafoe, Shadow of a Vampire, Death Note) tries to keep the peace, but Halley’s inability to take responsibility for her child causes many guests to complain. Bobby is torn between his duties as a manager and his concern for the well-being of the children.

I wasn’t a big fan of The Florida Project. As I say a lot, a character doesn’t have to be likable as long as they are interesting. The only character I found to be compelling and interesting in the film is Dafoe’s Bobby. His performance is strong and real. You can see the strain of his decisions weighing on him.

I really didn’t like Halley as a character. I felt bad for her child as I’ve seen this kind of thing play out in real life. The film was real and believable in a lot of ways, but these weren’t compelling characters that I wanted to spend time with, and Halley especially was more annoying and one-note.

The technical aspects are strong, though, with director Sean Baker (Tangerine, Starlet) again using his strong visual sense to fill the screen with gorgeous albeit tragic images. It’s one of the saving graces of an overall disappointing and depressing film.

I might catch some flack here for my opinion on The Florida Project, but overall, I wasn’t nearly as taken by the film as others clearly were. That’s the great thing about film. I hope you enjoy it, but I certainly didn’t. Short of Dafoe’s incredible work and the lovely cinematography, The Florida Project didn’t work for me.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[Early Review] The Great Wall (2016)

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Director: Yimou Zhang

Cast: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Pedro Pascal, Andy Lau

Screenplay: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy

103 mins. Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy action violence.

 

The Great Wall, from director Yimou Zhang (Hero, The Flowers of War), hits American theaters tomorrow, and I got the chance to see if last night. In the best sense of the phrasing, if you enjoyed the trailer, then this is the movie for you.

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The two survivors of a group of mercenaries, William (Matt Damon, The Bourne Identity, The Martian) and Tovar (Pedro Pascal, TV’s Narcos, Bloodsucking Bastards), have come to the Great Wall for protection from Khitan bandits and a strange creature that attacked them the night before. They are taken in as prisoners but soon prove themselves when the wall is besieged by large green creatures called the Tao Tie who rise every 60 years as punishment for man’s greed. William soon forms a rocky partnership with the Nameless Order and one of its commanders, Lin (Tian Jang, Special ID, The Man from Macau), but he is torn when a European, Sir Ballard (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man, Finding Dory), shows him and Tovar black powder, the substance their group has been searching for. Struggling between his task to steal the black powder and the hero lying within him, William must decide who he really is, and time is running out.

The Great Wall trailer does a great job of advertising this film. It doesn’t lie, this is a movie about Matt Damon fighting monsters on the Great Wall. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Director Zhang inject eastern sensibilities and style in a dual-production from America and China in order to create a truly unique legend of The Great Wall. I really enjoyed the visual flair and Matt Damon’s excitement for his character, and who doesn’t love Pedro Pascal here. Jian Tang is the real star here, holding her own with big names and stealing scenes with her focus, determination, and passion as Commander Lin.

On the downsides, Willem Dafoe is completely wasted on a subplot that had no place in this film, and Pedro Pascal spends too much time out of the focus of the film. It is when Damon and Jang are together that the film hits its highs. The film’s visual effects are nothing to get really excited about, but it also didn’t take me out of the film.

Now to the controversy. It shouldn’t exist. There should be no controversy. Watch the film first and you will see. Zhang has in recent films tasked high-caliber actors regardless of race to fit roles leading the film. It sells tickets, and William was never meant to be Chinese.

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The Great Wall was a lot of fun. Probably the most fun I’ve had so far in 2017 at the theaters. It isn’t trying to win you over, so if the trailer did nothing for you, the movie probably won’t change that. I, personally, enjoyed it immensely.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

John Wick (2014)

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Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alife Allen, Adrienne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe

Screenplay: Derek Kolstad

101 mins. Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use.

 

You have to give credit to Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, 47 Ronin). As soon as he has convinced you that he has nothing more to offer, along comes a film like John Wick, and he totally redeems himself.

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John Wick stars Reeves in the titular role, a man who has just lost his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan, TV’s Blue Bloods, I, Robot). When he makes an enemy of Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen, TV’s Game of Thrones, Atonement), son of the terrifying Russian mobster Viggo (Michael Nyqvist, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Europa Report), John decides that he must come out of retirement. John’s previous job: professional and international hitman, and he is very good at what he does.

Keanu Reeves owns this role and he has a lot of fun in it. Apparently, when you turn on John Wick’s violent switch, it isn’t so easy to turn it off. It does help that he has such a versatile group of supporting players from genre favorites like Ian McShane (Kung Fu Panda, Hercules), John Leguizamo (Ice Age, Chef), and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, The Fault in Our Stars), who all supply some deliciously cheesy hype for the man named John Wick (though, I should point out, be prepared to hear this name constantly throughout the picture; people cannot stop uttering it).

I enjoyed the plot of the film, the classic revenge tale with elements of secret societies and a code of honor involving a hotel sacred ground for hitmen. I wanted to have more elements of this world fleshed out further, but John continues on his mission. Did the film run on too long? You bet your ass it did. There was a clear-cut ending twenty minutes earlier that would have been perfect and set up the franchise well, but it just kept going.

Director Chad Stahelski, relative newcomer, offers up an interesting vision of his created world, and the cinematography adds elements of action from martial arts to Matrix-style gunplay, which Reeves knows all too well at this point. The film did spend a bit too much time on unimportant exposition as to playing to its strengths.

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All things considered, John Wick is a pretty fun flick that is a bit too long but has the makings of a new franchise. It is nice to see Keanu back in action and I hope this series continues providing stylistic action and exploring its world a bit more.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Lea Seydoux, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tony Revolori

Screenplay: Wes Anderson

100 mins. Rated R for language , some sexual content and violence.

 

Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox) has a style. It is easy to tell when a movie is a Wes Anderson movie. He has tells. He has a visual sense that he knows he wants. The Grand Budapest Hotel has this notable visual sense that Anderson is known for. It is told in a frame device of a frame device. In the present, a girl opens a memoir by “The Author” (Tom Wilkinson, Batman Begins, Belle) who recounts a tale of his meeting with Zero Moustapha (F. Murray Abraham, TV’s Homeland, Amadeus) who further recounts a tale of his time working as a lobby boy for M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The Invisible Woman) who is framed for murder. The entirety of the film revolves around this whodunit as Gustave claims he had nothing to do with the death of Madame D (Tilda Swinton, Adaptation, The Zero Theorem). Her family is fighting over her fortune, and one of them may be the one responsible for her death.

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This movie is all over the place. I enjoyed the central premise but I didn’t feel as though the plot stayed in one place long enough to be interesting. I prefer the more calculated Moonrise Kingdom to this piece, which just goes too far out.

Of the actors involved here, I really liked a lot of what was brought to the screen from an acting perspective. I particularly loved Ralph Fiennes as Gustave, who may be more worried about the state of his hotel than about the murder to which he is framed. F. Murray Abraham is a great narrator here. I also really like Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, John Wick) as the hitman Jopling who has been hired to take out the leads that could link authorities to the true culprit. Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Morning Glory) steals absolutely every scene he has here, and I wish he had more screentime. The film also contains a cadre of Anderson cameos from previous collaborators.

Anderson does display a gorgeous cinematography here, the only fault being with the editing job which spends too much time dragging out too many subplots.

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I liked The Grand Budapest Hotel. I didn’t love The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was merely enjoyable but Wes Anderson has done better and can do better. I can see several actors getting nods from the Academy for this film, but you will not see this film on the list of Best Picture nominees.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

What did you think of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel? Did you stay for the night or check out early? Let me know!

31 Days of Horror: Day 16 – Odd Thomas (2013)

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Director: Stephen Sommers

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe, Addison Timlin, Nico Tortorella

Screenplay: Stephen Sommers

97 mins. Rated PG-13.

 

From the moment I heard about the character of Odd Thomas, created by Dean Koontz for a series of novels, I knew that he would eventually get a film series. I was probably a little incorrect. I doubt he will get a “series” after this meager film.

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Writer/director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) has been slowly killing his career for years now, but I’m starting to think that Odd Thomas might have been the last nail in the coffin. Odd Thomas is all about, you guessed it, Odd Thomas. Have you heard that name too many times? Good, I prepared you for the film, which entails our hero (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek, Burying the Ex) who, along with Police Chief Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man, John Wick) and girlfriend Stormy Llewelyn (Addison Timlin, Derailed, The Town That Dreaded Sundown), must track down the mystery concerning a man with dark secrets to apocalyptic things. Honestly, I’m trying to make it sound good, but I stopped caring long before the plot began lugging forward.

This movie was just kind of boring. The plot really went nowhere, and I applaud the attempt at something original, but it is a bore. Odd Thomas is the kind of film that looks like it was a pilot to a television series that might have aired over a decade ago. It is cheap looking, and it is slow moving, and it has a group of talent that is wasted on weak script and a knock-off narrative.

I liked that Stephen Sommers was trying to push the story forwards, and he gives it a look with style similar to comic books, but I just didn’t give a shit about these characters after a while.

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And the ending, my God! How could a film fall back so quickly towards a cheap and uninspired ending like Odd Thomas did. I feel sad that they likely won’t be continuing this story, I hear great things about the book series, but sadly, we are in a world of supernatural serials and one of them just had to fall by the wayside. I hope this doesn’t ruin Yelchin’s career, I mean, he has Chekov to fall back on, but I can’t say the same for Sommers.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror: Day 12 – Daybreakers (2009)

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Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Sam Neill, Vince Colosimo, Isabel Lucas

Screenplay: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

98 mins. Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and brief nudity.

 

There are so many great ideas in filmmaking today. Ideas for completely new stories and ideas for imagining old stories in a completely new way. Most of these ideas get muddled by poor direction, cheap performances, and no subtlety. Daybreakers is one of those films that takes its idea, a reworking of the vampire myth, and brings it all the way through to fruition.

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Daybreakers exists in a world where the undead have taken over the planet. Vampires have a lifestyle all their own. Humans are on the run, the few that are left, that is. The others have been contained and are being bled dry to feed the ever-weakening population that can’t be regularly fed. Blood prices are up and the world is on the brink. It’s the story of Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke, Training Day, Boyhood), a vampire scientist trying to discover how to deal with the global catastrophe in the making. He is trying to solve the blood shortage crisis as Charles Bromley (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park, Escape Plan), a vampire business leader, hordes the blood for the wealthy. As the blood runs thin, normal walking vampires turn into horrific creatures (more like your were-vampires with tones of Nosferatu) who uncontrollably attack others to get their fix. Edward gets kidnapped by Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe, Spider-Man, John Wick), an ex-vampire who has found the cure to become human again. Together, they must, under cover of daylight, discover how to cure the general population and solve the blood crisis before the vampires morph out into monstrosities.

This was just a really cool idea. I was so excited to see how it played out, and not only was I not disappointed, but I was shocked to see such political undertones in a January release horror film. There is so much ingrained about the wealthy 1% versus the other 99, the Occupy Wall Street movement (which hadn’t even really happened yet), unemployment, gas prices, and now more than ever, our fear of an outbreak that we can’t even begin to understand. In today’s world of Ebola outbreaks in the United States, this film has a lot more to say for something essentially skipped over during its general release.

The cinematography is beautiful here, as it complements the art direction of playing off an alternate version of Earth. The changes in lifestyle are so paramount and yet subtle enough to make us look inwards at our lifestyle and how so easily it sits on the brink of societal collapse. These vampires live each day thinking their lives are okay and that someone is working to help them. They live in denial, like so many of us today.

I don’t really want to get political with this movie, which boils down to being a lot of fun at the core. The vampire mythos needed to get turned over with this. We had too much Twilight in our lore at this point and needed something with a bit of bite.

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Daybreakers is a lot of fun for the casual moviegoer and for the viewer looking for a bit more of substance to his gore. Check this film out for the interesting take of the myth, a cadre of well-performed characters, and some actual thought.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

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